#181 Panagia Parigoritissa


In the hillside Peranthis dominates imposing the most impressive church the Despotate of Epirus.

Construction Data

The construction of the church seems to have been done in two phases. Initially, the construction of a smaller church by the Despot Michael II and his wife Theodora began, and then his son Michael and his wife Anna Palaiologina Kantakouzene, created today's monument, which consists of the entire complex of structures with the nave and various ancillary areas. Currently is housed the Archaeological Collection of Arta with many artifacts from ancient Amvrakia. From the great stauropegic Monastery still stand today, the church of the Immaculate Conception, the elaborate masonry of the Bank of the monastery and 16 cells built with irregular stones of buildings from the ancient Amvrakia. While finally, in the SW side of the monument, an older temple with its looted cist graves were excavated.

The church is a true architectural masterpiece that dominates the area, not only because of its incredible beauty, but also because of its impressive dimensions. The length of the west side of the church is 22.10m, the length of the lateral sides is 20.27m, the height is 20.28m, the outer dome diameter is 7.58m and the height of the dome is 3.50m.

Awe causes the roof of the church with five brick domes and the palate at the front of the roof, supported on eight marble pillars, which gives the feeling of it being suspended. What really impresses, however, is the support system of the central dome of Parigoritissa, which gives it a pyramid shape, which leaves space for additional lighting and allows the visitor to see the dome from the main entrance. According to this plan, in each corner of the central square area a pair of pilasters has been fitted and on these a horizontal cantilever thrusted into the side walls, leaving free space. On these new spaces a second floor of columns was placed, while the columns supported the arches. Finally on the arches the dome was built, on which the image of the Almighty gives a special feeling to the viewer. The dimensions of the mosaic is huge with the diameter of the halo reaching 3.23m., the width of the head is 2.22m and the eye diameter is 0.80m. For its construction tesserae of stone and marble was used, also tesserae made ??of clay and glass frits but also others that were lined with sheets of gold and silver.

The masonry of the church is divided into three zones, two of which are built in isodomic brick enclosure system, while the lowest is irregularly built and not decorated because it was covered by an arcade until 1865.

Exceptional is the pottery decoration of the church, which in combination with the bifora windows with the columns give to the monument the face of an Italian Renaissance Palace, but also the sculptural and painted decoration of it.

Characteristic points of the decoration of the church are the top windows where there is a frieze, composed of white stone tiles and baked clay connected diagonally, and also of the apses of the east side with the rich pottery decoration. We also have an impressive written decoration in the internal arches of the dome. Characteristic spots are the northern vaulting which has as a theme the Birth of Christ and on the western vaulting we see the form of the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world. The written decoration is reportedly built by Italian artists must have been made ??in three layers. On the iconostasis there are three icons of the 18th century. The most important of which is the image of the Virgin Mary of Parigoritissa.

Inside the church we notice the narthex, which is covered by four vaults and a shield in the middle. Also, we identify two chapels housed in vaults and bearing pottery decorated walls. Over the chapels and the narthex there is a zenana that communicates with the rest of the church with 3 large bifora windows and is covered on the corners with four domes.

Historical Data

The Virgin Mary Parigoritissa was founded between the years 1285-1289 by the Despot of Epirus Nikephoros A'. Tradition says that it got the name because of an event that marked its construction. According to the legend, the famous master builder who built the church had to be absent for a few days, leaving on his place his assistant, who secretly decided to change the plans of the church. The result was impressive and clearly better than the plans of the master builder. When he turned and discovered what happened, was jealous so much that pushed his apprentice from the dome of the church to kill him. The apprentice however caught the master builder and dragged him also to the fall. The Virgin Mary appeared to the mother of the apprentice to console her for the unfair loss of her son. That is how the church got its name.

Additional information of historical, cultural and tourism interest

The history of the region of Arta, long lost in the mists of time. The years of history are evidenced and certified by numerous classical, Byzantine and post-Byzantine monuments that one can encounter in a single trip, convincing and satisfying even the most skeptical ones about the grandeur of the area. The Wall of Ancient Amvrakia, the Temple of Pythian Apollo Savior, the Castle, the famous monasteries and churches (Pandanassa, Parigoritria, Panagia Vlacherna, Red Church, etc.), the famous bridge of Arta, the Little Theatre of Amvrakia, the Mosque Faik Pasha in Imaret, among many others, are representative samples of the aspect of Arta in time. Besides visiting the monuments themselves, there is the opportunity to visit museums and collections that with their exhibits encourage us to travel mentally, in enchanting Arta, over the centuries. These are the Archaeological Museum of Arta, the Historical Museum "Skoufa", the Folklore Museum "Skoufa", The Collection of Folklore Material P. Karali and the information center of Salaora.

One, beyond the historical side of the city, will discover the traditional villages with their great history (Peta Kompoti), unparalleled natural beauty (Agnanta, Vourgareli) with the springs, the bridges, the clear waters and breathtaking views. Also, one will know the ecosystems of the area and the landscapes of exceptional ecological value, as Tzoumerka, the Ambracian Gulf and the valley of Acheloos. These, will guide the visitor to the wild, majestic landscapes, important wetlands and intact lagoons and to the most important wetlands in the Mediterranean, respectively. Also, for further information, one can visit the old port of Arta with its imposing lighthouse, the Koprena, in which operates an Environmental Education Center and a Museum of Natural History.

Apart from the points and sights of cultural-historical-cultural and natural interest, the visitor will be able to take advantage of the impressive, huge, mountains that surround and embrace Arta, and its gurgling, crystal, rushing rivers, in the context of alternative tourism. Focusing on Tzoumerka, Arachthos, Amvrakikos, a wide range of choices unfolds in front of all interested parties.

Such choices are the water routes of Canoe Kayak and Rafting, in the artificial lake of Pournari in Neochori of the municipality of Arachthos and in Arachthos, respectively. Other activities, such as horse riding, cycling, climbing routes, hiking trails, Hang gliding, paragliding, and participation in Spa-Thermal Bath Tourism (Thermal Baths of Chanopoulo) and in numerous local traditions and customs (festivals, celebrations etc.), complete the range of activities of alternative tourism, offering new experiences in nature, as it is disclosed in its most primal form.